EtonHouse International Pre- School at An Phu is now in its fourth year of operation. Oi sat down with their new principal, Leean Woodland, to learn more about what sets EtonHouse apart
As the new principal at EtonHouse An Phu, what is your main focus?
The three most important things to me are children’s health and safety, their achievement and progress and their psychological happiness. Within that frame, the school also has a very strong focus on inclusion, making the concept of equal opportunities as real and meaningful as possible. We genuinely welcome every nationality, religion and culture as well as children with all types of physical and cognitive abilities. If we don’t have something in place to allow a child access to every aspect of the curriculum then we will do our very best to put any equipment or procedures in place to allow the inclusion of all children who find their way into our school.
What can parents expect to see when they visit the school?
Besides parents being able to see the sheer diversity of students at our school, I feel happy that the parents should be able to feel the warm, happy atmosphere of children learning in a motivating and fun-filled environment, with inspiring, caring and dedicated teachers in every classroom. At EtonHouse An Phu we have a very ‘open door policy’ where parents are welcome to walk in unannounced into the learning environment at any time. We feel absolutely confident that parents should be able to see and feel the warm constructive atmosphere whenever they visit. Of course we have many wonderful and stimulating resources but we do feel that the most important resource is the teacher and the atmosphere of the learning environment.
What are some of the steps you’ve taken to be inclusive to such a diverse student body?
We offer 1 to 1 support for children, often specialist support, for children who need that extra bit of help to move around the environment or to follow our curriculum, and regularly meet with specialists from related fields so that the children can reach their maximal potential. We also adapt our resources, level of explanations and learning experiences to meet all types of abilities, including gifted children. Even the many mainstream children in the same classroom have differentiated; individual programmes to match their various rates of learning and their interests and needs. We also celebrate cultural diversity by the positive promotion of multi-cultural aspects through flashcards and resources, through celebration of each child’s main cultural festivals, through embedding the positive promotion of equality and diversity in the everyday curriculum and through special events such as International Children’s day etc.
Are the students learning only in English?
We currently have 7 classes; the five international classes are taught in English and two of our classes are bilingual. The bilingual classes use Vietnamese and English interchangeably throughout the day. But we have always found that children learn more than one language very quickly at this age and our teachers are very skilled at teaching children who are non-native English speakers. As English though is the main language through which all children can communicate, the level of learning is usually very rapid indeed.
What is the curriculum and developmental focus based on?
We have five curricular areas, but ours, following EtonHouse Singapore’s Inquire-Think-Learn framework, is not a prescriptive curriculum. Our curriculum is also inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy where learning is open-ended and flexible. Since we support the children to develop independence and freedom of thought, we teach according to the child’s interest. For instance if the children are interested in animals, we will teach maths or science through that interest. They will then understand basic mathematical concepts in a fun and long lasting way. I also give the teachers the average of what children attain if they went to a regular kindergarten so they do not lose sight of the minimum learning requirements by age group in mathematics and reading. At EtonHouse An Phu, there is an emphasis on teamwork; so the children do a lot of projects together.
EtonHouse International Pre-School at An Phu serves children as young as 18 months in their pre-nursery program to 6 year olds in kindergarten. They offer half days, full days as well as an afterschool enrichment program. For more info, go to www.etonhouseanphu.com or visit them at Level 2, Somerset Vista, 628c Hanoi Highway, D2, HCMC.
Images Provided by EtonHouse An Phu